The Community Shelter Board received the second largest grant in the latest round of federal funding to prevent youth homelessness.
Mike Foley has details.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Community Shelter Board nearly $6.1 million through HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.
“This program supports local efforts to provide stable housing, thus breaking the cycle of homelessness and promoting self-sufficiency," HUD Field Office Director Thomas Leach said. "But it’s really about giving homeless youth a chance. The Community Shelter Board will be responsible for planning, funding, and managing the local grant initiative. Over the next four months, they’ll be working through a planning process to identify local partners who will be providing these direct services to homeless youth.”
According to CSB statistics, more than 1,300 residents age 24 and younger were served in Columbus and Franklin County shelters last year, and more than 900 unaccompanied youth between age 14 and 24 visited the Star House drop-in center.
“We can’t lose another generation to the ravages of homelessness,” Community Shelter Board Executive Director Michelle Heritage said. “We now have a path forward to create a coordinated, comprehensive, community solution to assure that the most vulnerable young people in our community have the opportunity not just to survive - but to thrive.”
A committee featuring local government representatives, youth and homeless service providers, The Columbus Foundation, and young people who have experienced homelessness will collaborate to develop that plan. Skye Vanek shared her story of how the system of care in Columbus works. Just before the start of 2018 and five months into Vanek’s pregnancy, her house burned down. Holding her healthy young daughter at the award announcement, Vanek credited the help she received for making it possible.
“I went to all my doctor’s appointments,” Vanek recalled “They said if you don’t get stable housing, my child could be taken away from me. I had to be an advocate for me, but also my unborn child. I reached out to the Center for Healthy Families, and they introduced me to Huck House. Ever since then, they took me in and helped me with whatever I needed. It hits home to me, because if it wasn’t for those two centers, my daughter wouldn’t be here with me today. My daughter would be in foster care. I just want to thank you.”
HUD’s latest grant awards to reduce youth homelessness totaled $43 million, spread across 11 cities including Columbus